Autism and Immunizations Contributed by Brian De Cicco
Parent’s face many difficult decisions to make about how to raise their children. All parents want there children to grow up to be healthy and happy. As with most things in life, provide for the health of their children requires parents to be well informed of issues that relate to their children. For example, increasing numbers of children born with some for of autism have increased in recent years. A report from MSNBC.com reports bout 300,000 U.S. children have been diagnosed with autism, according to the largest national study so far of the prevalence of this complex behavioral disorder.
That means about 5.5 out of every 1,000 school-age children have been diagnosed with autism. [ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12629664/ ] The exact cause of these increases in autism are unknown and range from the increasing age at with parent conceive, to the use of prescription drugs (both pre and postnatal), and to a widening view of what constitutes autism and even speculation that immunizations are to blame. Immunizations against diseases such as measles, diphtheria, polio, smallpox, rubella, Hib meningitis and mumps have practically eliminated these diseases in the United States. Immunizations hav been so successful, most Americans probably have little or no idea what these diseases are like. However, to parents struggling to cope with the demands and frustrations of raising an autistic child, the thought that it could have been prevent must be alarming. However, such parents should find some relief in that the CDC, American Pediatric Association, American Medical Association, and the Autism Society of America all support the stance the there are no know links between immunizations and autism.
Autism Not Linked to Immunization: Debunking the Myth
The national parent advocacy organization, PKIDs (Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases), is committed to protecting our nation's children against diseases that have life-long effects on their health and development. In response to a U.S. House Government Reform Committee hearing on autism, PKIDs voices its support for more resources for autism research and stresses that there is no scientific evidence linking autism to immunization.
"There is a long way to go in understanding autism. As a nation, we cannot ignore the need for research to find a cure for this severe and very prevalent neurological disorder," said Trish Parnell, director of PKIDs. "Autism affects more than 400,000 families and costs the nation over 13 billion dollars a year — it deserves as much public attention and research as other childhood diseases."
Although autism is currently the third most common developmental disorder, it receives less than five percent of the funding for research of other childhood diseases, like multiple sclerosis and cystic fibrosis. Funding for research into diseases such as autism is an integral part of finding a cure.
In hopes of improving the quality of children's health across the country, PKIDs lends its support to H.R. 3301, the "Children's Health Research and Prevention Amendments of 1999" that would amend the Public Health Service Act in regards to children's health.
NO SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE LINKING IMMUNIZATION TO AUTISM
While PKIDs advocates for additional resources for autism research, it does not condone the spread of false and misleading information linking autism to childhood vaccination. PKIDs strongly encourages parents to continue immunizing their children with scientifically proven safe and effective vaccines.
"Today's high immunization rates are what is protecting us from outbreaks of measles, rubella, diphtheria and polio," said Dr. Ed Marcuse, Director, Medical Services at Seattle's Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center. "If we stopped vaccinating, costly outbreaks of these vaccine-preventable diseases would return as surely as spring follows winter with devastating consequences for some families."
Over the past 50 years, vaccines have gained control over or virtually eliminated diseases that used to be very common in the U.S., including measles, diphtheria, polio, smallpox, rubella, Hib meningitis and mumps. But, other diseases such as hepatitis B, varicella and pneumococcal meningitis are still common, resulting in serious illness for many families. In fact, even in the U.S., where immunization rates are the highest, approximately 1 million pre-school children are not adequately protected against potentially disabling or fatal diseases that can be prevented by immunization.
April 6, 2000
CONTACT: For more information, please call 877-55-PKIDS or log onto www.pkids.org.
Autism and Vaccines Theory
At a glance: The weight of currently available scientific evidence does not support the hypothesis that vaccines cause autism. We recognize there is considerable public interest in this issue, and therefore support additional research regarding this hypothesis. CDC is committed to maintaining the safest, most effective vaccine supply in history.
HHS' Autism site including information on Frequently Asked Questions, Symptoms/ Diagnosis, Treatment/Therapy, Genetics, Clinical Trials, Autism and Vaccines, Resources for Parents, Information for Children, Press Releases, Research, State Agencies, and Other Sites with Autism Information.
FAQs on NIEHS Report to Congress
Questions and answers summarizing a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences report to Congress on the feasibility of using CDC’s Vaccine Safety Datalink to study a potential association between thimerosal exposure in pediatric vaccines and increased autism rates.
MMR Vaccine and Autism Fact Sheet
Key messages, and additional sources of information on MMR vaccine and autism
FAQs on Theory of MMR Vaccine and Autism
Frequently Asked Questions on the hypothesis of MMR and Autism
Autism Information Center (CDC)
General information about autism and CDC's autism research:
• Definition of autism
• Causes of autism
• Prevalence of the Autism Spectrum Disorders
• Sources for further information
References on autism, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), and the study of autism and vaccines.
• American Academy of Pediatrics
• American Medical Association
• Autism Society of America
• Immunization Action Coalition
• National Network for Immunization Information
• HHS list of related organizations
• The MMR Decision Aid: Are you considering MMR vaccination for your child?
Clarify what is important to you in making a decision about MMR vaccination. (exit site)
• News release from American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): Guidance to pediatricians on recognizing the early symptoms of autism and recommendations on continuing immunizations. (7 May 2001) (exit site)
• CDC, Division of Birth Defects, Child Development, and Disability and Health: Autism in Children